75 uncounted ballots turn up in Broomfield fracking election

Box of ballots examined Friday

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - A mysterious box of about 75 apparently uncounted ballots in Broomfield's Nov. 5 vote to ban fracking will be examined by election judges on Friday morning.

In unofficial election night results, the measure to ban fracking in Broomfield for five years was failed by 13 votes. After outstanding ballots were counted a week later, however, the ban was approved by a 20 vote margin, according to the City of Broomfield.

City Manager Charles Ozaki told Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens and city council members on Jan. 2 about the box reportedly stashed in Election Manager Michael Susek's office, The Colorado Observer political blog reported on Wednesday

"We have not counted them but believe there are fewer than 75 in total," Ozaki wrote in an email obtained by The Observer that disclosed the problem.  Two ballots were reportedly in unopened envelopes.

The Colorado Observer reported that Ozaki's email also stated:  "After cursory review, staff believes that all but two of these ballots are either:  1) 'un-voted,' meaning without marks indicating voter action; or 2) 'spoiled,' meaning the voter made mistakes sufficient to request a replacement ballot, which would have been tracked in the official election database."

It is unclear why the box was not reported until two months after the November election or why the box was not examined and emptied during the ballot-counting process.

Because it is not known exactly what's in the box, it is hard to know how the contents could affect the November election results, Ozaki told the Broomfield Enterprise

On Thursday, the City of Broomfield posted on its website:

"The City and County of Broomfield will be reviewing a limited number of ballots in retention that were received by the Elections Division and were either spoiled, not voted, not returned undeliverable by the United States Postal Service, or were not previously indexed. This includes ballots that were surrendered unvoted, that were returned unvoted by residents at a group residential facility, and that were otherwise not cast by the voter. These materials were maintained in a box in the Elections Administrator’s office and have not been previously reviewed in public.

"Interested parties may witness this administrative event at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 in the Bal Swan/Zang Spur Conference Room at the George Di Ciero City and County Building, 1 DesCombes Drive."

Ozaki told 7NEWS the city wanted to give the opportunity to see the items being reviewed.

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